What are the best digital marketing online certifications? (2019)
It’s an exciting time for higher education but, as traditional programs try to catch up with technology and current practices, companies are less worried about where you went to college – they’re looking for proof of real skills and passion.
The good news? With some great online marketing certifications out there, it’s never been easier to learn new valuable, in-demand skills for yourself. Those that can make you worthy of landing that job you love.
So here are the top online courses you can take right now to build your digital marketing chops:
Become Google Certified in Digital Marketing – by Google
Google has been pouring resources into different education initiatives for years through projects like Google Scholar, Google Education or Google Classroom. One of their educational hubs is Google Digital Garage; a collection of free tutorials on digital marketing fundamentals.
Digital Garage’s learning path is designed to build your confidence with core digital marketing practices from a very entry level. There are currently 26 topics available, covering everything from planning your online presence to creating a social media plan, understanding SEO or turning data into insights through short, simple and straightforward lessons.
For those who finish the complete course content, Google has partnered with Interactive Advertising Bureau (an advertising organisation that develops industry standards for the online advertising industry) to offer an official certification.
- Best for: Getting a basic understanding of current digital marketing practices.
- Preparation: Going through the 26 topics in sequential order shouldn’t take you more than 8-10 hours.
- Course cost: The online certification is free with a Google login (i.e. your Gmail account).
- Exam cost: There is a quiz at the end of each module and a final exam. The cost is free.
- Validity: Doesn’t expire.
Become a HubSpot Certified Inbound Marketer – by HubSpot
HubSpot Academy’s courses are free online educational resources for inbound marketers.
Unlike other competitors in the marketing automation sphere, HubSpot doesn’t limit these lessons to their own software. Instead, you will find certifications on a wide range of inbound marketing topics, from sales enablement to email marketing, or content marketing.
Courses come in the form of short videos with transcriptions of each lecture, delivered through a slick interface that makes it easy to record your progress.
- This online marketing certifications is best for: Inbound marketers aiming to take their skills to the next level.
- Preparation: The content for each certification is different, but going through each course takes an average of 4 – 6 hours.
- Course cost: All public courses are free. Certifications and their associated courses are free for HubSpot customers only.
- Exam cost: Free for HubSpot customers.
- Validity: 1 year.
Become a Marketo Certified Expert – by Marketo
The Marketo Certified Expert (MCE) designation is a technical credential that validates your knowledge and expertise in the broad use of the Marketo platform. This is by nature a technical certification, so at least one year of experience with Marketo’s core product is highly recommended before taking the exam.
Marketo provides students with a two-pager self-study roadmap that outlines the main topic areas to study on their documentation site, but practice exams are very limited. Paid instructor-led courses are also available to Marketo customers at the cost of $375 for a 3-hour session.
Note: If you’re studying to become certified in Marketo, I just published these 200+ practice questions right here.
The test itself consist of 75 multiple-choice questions to complete in 90 minutes and the passing score is 70%. After successfully passing the exam, you will gain Marketo Certified Expert status for two years before having to take the exam again.
- Best for: Current Marketo users wanting to get their expertise recognised through an official certification.
- Preparation: Total familiarity with the core product’s functionalities and on-the-job use cases through at least 1 year of hands-on experience with the Marketo platform.
- Course cost: No official course. All learning materials are publicly available and free.
- Exam cost: That’d be $225.
- Validity: 2 years.
Become a Tableau Expert – by Tableau
Used by more than 50,000 companies worldwide, Tableau is one of the top business intelligence tools for visualising and analysing data. Holding a Tableau certification distinguishes you as an expert in the field of helping organisations solve their data challenges through data-driven solutions and business insights.
So how do you become a Tableau certified expert? There are currently two types of certifications: Qualified Associate (the entry-level status) and Certified Professional (the pro level). Each exam focuses on testing a different set of product skills, which is why one is a required prerequisite of the other.
The company offers different online training programs to prepare for the exam, but experience using the product with various scenarios and data sets is critical. Also, note 10–15% of the exam questions are theoretical and 80–85% practical questions. The exam’s content maps with Tableau Classroom Training course materials, which is why attending the course is recommended (though not a requirement).
- Best for: Tableau users wanting to get their expertise recognised through an official certification.
- Preparation: Up to 1-2 months, but passing the exam is highly dependent on your level of hands-on experience with Tableau.
- Course cost: There are lots of free resources available, but the company also offers in-depth paid courses to customers.
- Exam cost: $250 for Qualified Associate exam, $800 for Certified Professional exam.
- Validity: 2 years for Qualified Associates, 3 years for Certified Professionals.
Become a Google Analytics Qualified Expert – by Google
Estimates suggest as many as 30–50 million websites use Google Analytics today. Google’s Analytics Academy is exactly what you might expect from its name: A learning hub to help you learn the ins and outs of Google’s core analytics product.
Going through the online training will prepare you for the Google Analytics Individual Qualification (GAIQ) exam, certifying you’re proficient in intelligent data collection, reporting and analysis. There’s a total of four modules available in the academy and candidates are recommended to go through at least two of these before taking the test; the Google Analytics Course for Beginners and the Advanced Google Analytics Course.
- Best for: Google Analytics users wanting to get their expertise recognised through an official certification.
- Preparation: Studying all the course content sequentially will take you about 15-20 hours to complete, but passing the exam is highly dependent on your level of familiarity and expertise with Google Analytics.
- Course cost: All academy courses are free of charge.
- Exam cost: Taking the GAIQ exam is now free as well (used to be $50 until 2013).
- Validity: 1 year.
Become a Salesforce Certified Expert – by Salesforce
Salesforce’s ecosystem is huge by now, with the company expecting to drive over 3.3 million Salesforce-related jobs by 2022. Trailhead is Salesforce’s vision realisation to help marketing and sales professionals choosing the best path into their career and learning the tool’s capabilities at their own pace.
Rather than offering one single set of resources or one certification, the site aims you to choose the route that better fits your professional background or aspirations. Are you a sales and marketing consultant? Are you a developer or an application manager? Once you’ve chosen your learning path, Trailhead’s content is nicely organised and tagged by skills and level or proficiency. There are quizzes at the end of each lesson as well as rewards, adding a gamification element that really helps getting through some of the longer lessons.
Once you’ve acquired enough knowledge and hands-on experience on your selected learning path, there are 6 official certification tracks, each of them including multiple alternatives or “specialisations”.
TL;DR: You can think of Trailhead as a fun, easy way to get started with the vast Salesforce ecosystem. There are 6 broad specialisation tracks, some of them more technical than others. After sufficient experience with the tool in a real business context you can choose to become officially certified in any of their multiple cerficications.
- Best for: Salesforce users looking for guidance on specific specialisations within the broad Salesforce ecosystem.
- Preparation: Each individual certification requires a different time commitment and level of experience. Marketing and Sales consultants are recommended to have a 2-5 year experience with the system. Check this ebook for all the details.
- Course cost: Most resources are publicly available and free, or free with a Salesforce account.
- Exam cost: Varies from exam to exam and ranges between $200 and $500.
- Validity: Usually 1 year, but also different by type of certification. Check out this comprehensive article from Salesforce for the details.
Become a Twitter Certified Expert – by Twitter
Twitter Flight School provides a bunch of quick mini-courses to help marketing professionals get the most out of advertising on Twitter. Getting started with Flight School is easy, though there’s not much information about their courses and learning materials until you actually enroll yourself on their site.
There are two types of job-specific learning paths: Marketing Leadership and Executive Leadership. The topics range from short lessons to brush up on the basics of Twitter; like how to reach the right audience or how to use Twitter for marketing purposes, to deep dive courses on advanced practices such as addressable TV or targeted ads.
All learning resources are short and to the point and going through all modules takes approximately two hours. There’s a quick test at the end of each module and, once completed, Twitter recognises your expertise with an official badge and a certificate.
- Best for: Marketing professionals wanting to get proficient on how to use Twitter for their business.
- Preparation: Approximately 3-5 hours.
- Course cost: Free.
- Exam cost: Free.
- Validity: The course is mostly focused on acquiring knowledge with Twitter core marketing products.
So run. Right back to school.